”Testimony of Major-General L. Wallace, in the case of Commander Dove, U. S. Navy.
Interrogatory 1. Please state your name and rank in the U. S. Army.
Answer. Lewis Wallace. I have the honor to be a major-general in the U. S. Army.
Question 2. In what service during the rebellion have you engaged in which Commander Dove took part?
Answer. In the combined expedition which resulted in the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson.
Question 3. Please state to the board, from what you saw of him at Donelson or other places on the Cumberland and Mississippi rivers, your opinion as to his conduct and abilities; also as to his judgment.
Answer. I am a poor sailor and must be permitted to judge Commander Dove by results.
I recollect well—indeed, I shall always remember—the disappointment of the army at Donelson when Commodore Foote’s attack upon the water battery failed.
Our first news of the affair was that the ironclads had all been disabled, and, with the commander, gone down to Cairo for repairs. Next day in the afternoon, if my memory is right as to the time, General Charles F. Smith and myself, under orders, assaulted the rebel line, he on the left of our position, I on the right. While my division was engaged, the guns of the fleet opened fire again.
I recollect yet the positive pleasure the sounds gave me. I recollect thinking, too, of the obstinacy and courage of the commodore, and how well timed his attack was, if, as I made no doubt, it was made to assist General Smith and myself—I say the commodore, for at the moment I supposed him yet in command.
Now, as to whether the attack was of assistance to us, I don’t think there is room to question it. It distracted the enemy’s attention, and I fully believe it was the gunboats, the awful ironclads especially, that operated to prevent a general movement of the rebels up the river, or across it, the night before the surrender.
That opportune attack by the fleet was, I thought, and yet think’ of very great assistance, both in bringing about the surrender so early and in producing for the reason given the net result in the way of prisoners, and that it saved to the ironclads their reputation for invincibility in the minds of both the national and rebel armies—a reputation based upon the astonishing success at Donelson—is, I think, equally indisputable.
Had the fleet not made an appearance that way, or had it gone down the river with the commodore, we would have had the same difficulties upon the Tennessee River when the expedition was subsequently extended up to Savannah and Pittsburg Landing as now almost close the Mississippi.
At the time I was not aware who was in command of the fleet. Since that I have been informed it was my gallant friend, Commander Dove. I can not help believing that the navy on the Western rivers was as much indebted to him for his promptitude and judgment at Donelson as were General Smith and myself, and General Grant with us.
Question 4. Please state to the board under what circumstances you met Commander Dove on the morning of February 16, 1862.
Answer. At daybreak that morning, on the extreme right of our lines, I formed my division for an assault upon the rebel works.
The formation was in progress when a white flag was brought out, and the officer in charge, a Major Rogers, of the Second rebel Mississippi, reported as enquiring for me. I rode forward and met him. He had been sent by General Buckner to inform me, as commanding officer on the right, that he had capitulated during the night.
Upon this I instantly ordered my command to advance and take possession of the enemy’s works and secure the prisoners and public property.
Sending Major [W. E.] Rogers under escort of one of my aids to General Grant, I rode into Dover to General Buckner’s headquarters.
I found the general, with his staff, at breakfast. Before the war, he and I, and everyone at the table, had been friends, between whom, on several occasions, military courtesies had been interchanged. By invitation, I joined the party and breakfasted with them while waiting, for General Grant.
We had been thus engaged, eating and talking the battles over, for probably three-quarters of an hour, when an officer of the fleet was announced, and Commander Dove entered.
After introducing himself to Buckner, he addressed some enquiries to me, relative, I think, to the capitulation and its terms. I explained the situation to him, and told him that I was waiting for General Grant. After some general conversation I think he retired.
His appearance surprised me, and I remember giving way to some jealous suspicions. I even called the attention of Lieutenant [Addison] Ware, one of my aids, to the commander’s promptitude, and remarked that the navy seemed to be abroad very early; they were looking for swords, perhaps. I flattered myself, however, that this time I had been about three-quarters of an hour ahead of him.
This is about all the circumstances I now recall having reference to Commander Dove. …”